- Mark and Jonathan offered to answer any questions we might have throughout the year about our artistic or business operations. I can't think of another art form where the leading practitioners would make themselves so available to beginners.
- CIF can help connect us with coaches from around the country through CIF artistic associates. We are definitely going to take them up on that offer.
- If you're unknown, PR for a particular media outlet can take six months to a year before you see any results.
- Annoyance Theater never used the word improv in their posters; always used the word "comedy" because that was more palatable to the audience. Audience doesn't care how the laughs are created as long as they are funny. Advised us not to use the word improv in our marketing (BIG is kind of screwed in this regard, but that's mainly why we use the tagline "Unscripted theater for Baltimore")
- Press kit is the most important element in creating a good impression on the media
- Mark told us the story of how Annoyance was founded. Mick Napier saw a Second City show and read the book Something Wonderful Right Away, and that's about all he knew about improv. They all started a troupe at Indiana University and were flying by the seat of their pants, doing weekly shows at a local bar. "Ignorance was a real advantage" -- they didn't question the validity of what they were doing.
- Jonathan outlined three layers of improv pedagogy:
- Teachers are invested in their teaching.
- Coaches are invested in the team.
- Directors are invested in the project.
- Every improv student question boils down to "Am I Good?"
- Every improv professionals' question boils down to "Is the work good?"
- When you are the director, you have to believe you are always right (they were discussing self-coached/self-directed teams)
- Annoyance has a rule: any given element of a show can only be talked about for a certain amount of time. "You can what-if everything to death"
- You should never introduce a game that you are performing in; hard for audience to accept you as a player, hard for you to get into player mindset
- Always buy your own theater if possible vs. leasing
- Realize who you are: teenage groups don't usually like to play as teenagers; all-women groups don't play as women or explore a unique female perspective on the world.
More interesting improv would result if people used who they were in their improv
- Group challenges: We start all as a group of peers; some people progress at different rates, some stay behind. Some don't progress at all. It's an art form. Need to assess where a person is against where they want to be. Hard to handle this situation because you usually like all of the people you are working with, else you would not have started a group with them.
- If combining formats in one show, always do short form first. Audience will be more willing to take a ride into long form after that.
Monday, April 30, 2007
Chicago Improv Festival Artistic/Business Meeting Notes
After BIG's coaching sessions and performance at the Chicago Improv Festival, the festival's Executive Director (Jonathan Pitts) and Artistic Director (Mark Sutton) had a long meeting with all of the apprentice teams where they gave us advice, answered questions, and offered the resources of the festival to help us over the next year. The highlights of this meeting for me are noted below.